Ethiopian Orthodox Church followers continue to demand government to hold those attacking the church with impunity accountable. They also opposed politically motivated plots to break up the church along ethnic line.
September 22, 2019
Exactly a week after tens of millions of Ethiopian church followers took to the streets in several cities in Amhara region of Ethiopia, an even bigger protest has happened across several cities in the region.
State media, Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC) reported on Sunday that tens of hundreds of faithful followers marched in the streets of Bahir Dar (the seat of Amhara regional state) demanding an end to an orchestrated attacks on Ethiopian church.
Debre Markos, Debre Berhan, Woldia, Bichena, Fenote Selam, Bure, Debarq and Enjibara, among others, have seen massive protests in defense of the Ethiopian church.
“Bring perpetrators of attacks on churches and worshipers before law and hold them responsible,” is among the slogans that demonstrators chanted as they marched the streets.
Protesters also expressed the view that the Ethiopian church has contributed a lot for Ethiopia in history and the move to attack the Ethiopian church amounts to a move to destroy the history of Ethiopia.
As well, protesters opposed what they call are a politically motivated move to divide the ancient Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church along ethnic lines.
It is now public that group led by Kesis Belay Mekonnen emerged within the church demanding for an ethnic Oromo church administration in Oromo region of Ethiopia which many including political pundits seem to relate to a radical Oromo ethnic nationalist movement.
The Holy Synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church convened an emergency meeting to discuss the ultimatum laden demands from the group in the capital Addis Ababa about a fortnight or so ago.
The Synod issued a statement after the meeting and condemned Kesis Belay Mekonnen’s move to divide the church on the alleged grounds of expanding service in ethnic Oromo language. The church also stated that it has been serving worshipers in their own language and is also stepping up efforts to do more in that direction.
Protesters in Bahir Dar and other towns reflected on Ethiopian church commitment to serve followers in their own language.
Translation of one of the slogans protesters carried reads something like “A church worshiping a God that unveiled 72 languages has never opposed church service in different languages,” but they opposed the intent to break up the church along ethnic lines.
Archbishop of Bahir Dar Diocese, Abune Abraham, recalled the reunification of Ethiopian Patriarchate which was divided as Diaspora based and one that is based in Ethiopia, and call for the government to play a role to help maintain the unity of the church.
As well, he urged the followers of the church to vigilantly follow up messages that are relevant for the unity of the country.
Last week, similar demonstrations took place in Dessie, Gondar, Debretabor, Meket, Kombolcha, Nefas Mewucha, Mekane Eyesus, Mekane Selam and Belesa.
In a span of a little over a year between July 2018 to August 2019, well over a dozen Ethiopian churches were burned and dozens of worshipers killed including priests and deacons. And the killings of priests and deacons were, in most cases, horrifying as it they were burned to death.
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